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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:

NATO chief urges ‘unity’ as alliance leaders trade insults

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg sought to build unity during remarks at a forum on the alliance’s future ahead of tomorrow’s formal meeting of the leaders of NATO’s 29 member states.

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But U.S. President Donald Trump undermined his message by attacking French President Emmanuel Macron as “nasty” after the French leader said last month that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was “experiencing brain death.” He pointed to the “instability of our American partner” as one of the key factors in NATO’s decline.

Trump also met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this afternoon. Speaking to the media, the President said U.S. legislators have to ratify the new North American free-trade deal before Mexico and Canada lose interest in finalizing it.

Read more: Cracks in the alliance: NATO leaders meet amid growing tensions over Syria and spending.

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Democrats accuse Trump of abusing power, obstructing impeachment probe

While Donald Trump was in London for the NATO summit, back home Democrats accused the U.S. President of abusing power to win re-election in 2020. The report that will form the basis of any formal impeachment charges says he solicited foreign interference, undermined national security, and ordered an unprecedented campaign to obstruct Congress. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

The House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to meet this evening to vote on its findings.

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Separately today, a U.S. appeals court handed Trump another defeat in his bid to keep his financial records secret, directing Deutsche Bank and Capital One to comply with subpoenas from congressional Democrats demanding the material.

In other U.S. election news: U.S. Senator Kamala Harris has ended her 2020 presidential bid, abandoning a campaign that began with promise for a rising Democratic Party star but faltered as she struggled to raise money and make a compelling case for her candidacy.

Canadian high-school students ranked near the top internationally in reading

Canadian high-school students are among the top performers in reading, according to a new international ranking. Canada ranked fourth overall in reading, behind Beijing-Shanghai-Jiangsu-Guangdong (China), Singapore and Macao (China), in the latest results from the OECD’s survey.

Among the provinces, Alberta students scored above the Canadian average, while students in four provinces – Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan – scored below the average.

There were, however, areas of concern in the assessment: One in seven Canadian students tested scored at the lowest levels in reading, and the gap in achievement between girls and boys persists.

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ALSO ON OUR RADAR

CP train operator dies in railyard accident: A Canadian Pacific Railway train operator was killed in a railyard accident in Port Coquitlam, B.C., last night, the sixth railway employee fatality of 2019.

BMO boosts dividend: Bank of Montreal took a $484-million restructuring charge that dented its profit in the fiscal fourth quarter, it reported today. It also said it’s raising its quarterly dividend by 3 cents to $1.06 a share.

Decade likely to be hottest on record: The UN weather agency says that the current decade is likely to set a new 10-year temperature record, adding further evidence that the world is getting hotter.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg arrives in Europe: Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg reached Europe today after a 21-day catamaran trip across the Atlantic for a United Nations summit in Madrid where she will invoke the fury of global youth at politicians’ foot-dragging over climate change.

Scott Brison appointed Dalhousie University chancellor: Former Liberal federal cabinet minister Scott Brison has been appointed chancellor of Dalhousie University, replacing Anne McLellan, whose term is up at the end of May.

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Ex-boyfriend charged in Cassidy Bernard’s death: More than a year after Cassidy Bernard was found dead in her home on the We’koqma’q First Nation in Nova Scotia, the RCMP today announced they have charged her ex-boyfriend Dwight Austin Isadore with second-degree murder.

Ottawa Senators’ Mark Borowiecki stops robbery: Ottawa Senators defenceman Mark Borowiecki halted an attempted robbery on Sunday in Vancouver, police confirm. He saw someone breaking into a parked car, and confronted the individual before wrestling away the stolen property.

MARKET WATCH

Global equity markets fell today, as signs that a deal to end the U.S.-China trade war might not come until after the November 2020 elections had investors seeking the perceived safety of bonds. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 280.23 points to 27,502.81, the S&P 500 lost 20.67 points to 3,093.20 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 47.35 points to 8,520.64.

Canada’s main stock index slipped for a third session, as the energy sector dropped despite a rise in oil prices. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 89.29 points at 16,892.18.

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TALKING POINTS

A war Jason Kenney is actually destined to win

“It’s a campaign that should have been waged by the government long before now, but no one’s had the courage to face the unionized blowback such a move was always going to incite.” - Gary Mason

Rona Ambrose is the right choice for Washington ambassador

“In an era of venomous political polarization, this would be a splendid show of bipartisanship. Never has a government chosen its American ambassador from the ranks of the Official Opposition party.” - Lawrence Martin

The TV personality and hogwash of the year: Marie Kondo

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“The spurious piety Kondo attached to getting rid of things is now exposed as a mere pause before getting you to buy more stuff.” - John Doyle

LIVING BETTER

With the holiday season fast approaching, planning ahead can help save you money when shipping gifts. The quicker you need to get your parcel there, the more you’ll pay. If you’re using Canada Post to ship a gift within Canada, regular parcels need to be sent by Dec. 11 this year to arrive by Christmas. Express and priority shipping, which both cost more, have later deadlines. And remember that a heavier and larger package will often raise your cost: Consider using a lightweight bubble mailer instead of a bulky cardboard box.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE

In an Ontario cemetery, this Anishinaabe ‘spirit house’ was built out of love – and protected thanks to reconciliation

The cemetery in Dryden, Ont., lies beside the Trans-Canada highway. Visit it today and you will see an unusual sight: a traditional Indigenous spirit house sitting among the rows of headstones. A tall, quiet young man named Everett Dylan MacKinnon-Ottertail put it there last month over the grave of his sister Devon, who died at the age of 36 from a rare blood disorder. The city ordered it taken down.

Stung, he posted a video about the edict. Outraged comments poured in, with some calling the edict disrespectful and others saying the city should be ashamed of itself. But instead of organizing a protest, MacKinnon-Ottertail met with city officials to talk it over. They explained the reason for the ban: The unorthodox structure violated a city bylaw. He explained the meaning of spirit houses, also known as grave houses. Found on the burial plots of Indigenous people in parts of Canada and the United States, they are believed by many to shelter the spirit before it transitions to the next world.

City officials now concede that the spirit house can stay. They are also looking at changing the rules to allow for more. Local community groups are saying the settlement shows how simply listening and learning can lead to reconciliation. Read Marcus Gee’s full story here.

Everett Dylan MacKinnon-Ottertail stands by the grave of his sister Devon. (Photo by David Jackson for The Globe and Mail)

David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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